March 19 - April 18

Henry IV, Part 1

The Boy Who Must Be King.

Shakespeare’s masterful tale of family and friends, honor and happiness, and those moments when we are forced to choose between the thing we desire and the thing we know we must do. See this thrilling and poignant coming-of-age story in repertory with its brother Henry IV, Part 2 for the perfect binge weekend!


Talkback Thursdays | Every Thursday after the performance

ASC welcomes children age 7+

Runs approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes

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Calendar for Henry IV, Part 1 (Revival)

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It’s likely that you will hear this plea shouted out from the Blackfriars Playhouse stage during a rehearsal when an actor forgets his or her lines. You might even hear it in a show today. That’s not because our actors are lazy. It’s because learning their lines is the least of their troubles.

Born of an experiment to bring Shakespeare’s performance conditions into our rehearsal hall, The Actors’ Renaissance has become a hallmark of ASC’s unique blend of scholarship and practice. It’s our deepest dive into the Elizabethan era, and in doing it we continue to make discoveries about how things might have happened in the original Blackfriars Playhouse.

Here are the basics: A 12 to 15 member acting company composed entirely of ASC veterans performs four plays in rotating repertory, rehearsing each of them in 10 days or less, without directors. Decisions about setting, music, props, and costumes are made by the company collectively and individually, accessing our stock of clothes, swords, and furniture.

Nothing empowers the actors more than being given the reins. We’ve practiced this way for nearly a dozen winters now, and it has created some of our most memorable productions (for good and ill)!

So if you hear a prithee, consider yourself lucky. It’s all part of the magic of the Ren!


In the absence of copiers and printers, actors were provided scripts with only their lines, and with three or four words before each speech—their cues. They relied on listening to each other closely on stage to hear their cue.


Actors assembled the play and chose their own costumes from what was on-hand, often discarded clothing from their supporting patrons. Scenery? That’s taken care of by lines like, “This is the forest of Arden.”


The playwright fed off the actors’ questions, feedback, and performance to hone the text. This closeness between playwrights and actors may be why so many plays were written between 1580 and 1642 (when the Puritans—boo!—closed the theatres).


Our self-termed “Ren Run” approximates what might have happened in the early stages of Shakespeare’s short rehearsal process where actors run through the play, inventing and improvising as they go.


Stuff That Happens
  • King Richard II yields his crown to his cousin, Bolingbroke, making him King Henry IV.
  • King Henry sends Richard to Pomfret castle where he is eventually killed by Henry’s supporters.
  • At the close of Richard II (the play chronologically preceding Henry IV, Part 1), the newly enthroned Henry IV promises to make a penitential trip to the Holy Land.
  • King Henry meets with his advisers to discuss his proposed crusade to the Holy Land, but the discussion turns to new battles on England’s northern borders.
  • In the north, England’s forces have prevailed over the Scots, but the young English nobleman Harry Percy (Hotspur) won’t turn over his prisoners to King Henry.
  • The King mourns the wanton behavior of his own Harry, his son, the Prince of Wales.
  • The King puts off the crusade and calls a meeting with the Percy family.
  • Away from court, Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff taunt each other after a night of drinking. Their cohort Poins attempts to enlist them in an upcoming robbery; after Falstaff leaves, Poins persuades Hal to rob and embarrass Falstaff; after Poins leaves, Hal tells the audience his plans for the future.
  • King Henry meets with Hotspur, Hotspur’s father (Northumberland), and Hotspur’s uncle (Worcester) to demand that Hotspur give up his prisoners. Hotspur agrees to do so only if the King will ransom Mortimer (Hotspur’s brother-in-law) from captivity in Wales. The King refuses.
  • Hotspur’s family members agree on a plot to depose the King that involves Douglas (a Scottish warrior) and Glendower (a self-proclaimed Welsh wizard).
  • Falstaff and his confederates (Peto, Bardolph, and Gadshill) rob some travelers and are, in turn, robbed by the disguised Prince Hal and Poins.
  • Hotspur reads a letter from a nobleman who refuses to join the rebellion against King Henry. Hotspur’s wife (Lady Percy) asks Hotspur what’s troubling him.
  • At a tavern in Eastcheap, Falstaff exaggerates and lies about the robbery. A nobleman brings a summons for Hal from the King.
  • In Wales, the rebels plan their campaign against the royal forces and discuss the division of the kingdom they have yet to win.
  • Honor, cowardice, bravery, growing-up, and civil wars ensue.